Monserrate's Gal Breaks Down While Defending Her Man

Her testimony expected to weight heavily on verdict

The girlfriend of alleged face-slasher Hiram Monserrate broke into tears while testifying this afternoon -- rushing from courtroom and throwing her boyfriend's assault trial into a temporary recess.

Karla Giraldo began to sob as a prosecutor played a video that shows her bleeding last December in the hallway of her boyfriend's apartment building.  After returning to the courtroom, Giraldo told the judge she did not want to watch the video and he explained she has no choice. 

Prosecutors say Karla Giraldo, 30, initially told doctors and police that state Sen. Hiram Monserrate slashed her face with glass in a jealous rage, but later changed her story when she discovered he was going to be arrested.

Monserrate has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. He said it was an accident, that he tripped last December at his apartment.

While on the stand today, she was asked "Do you recall telling the doctor that you were fighting and he cut my face?" Giraldo responded: "I don't recall having said that."  She said she remembers saying "it was an accident."

The prosecution's strongest testimony so far came from a nurse and doctor at Long Island Jewish, who heard a different tune from Giraldo the night of the attack.  They said when she arrived at the emergency room for treatment, she blamed her gashes on a deliberate attack by  Monserrate.  

On the stand, a small scar was visible on her face despite heavy make-up.Giraldo testified through a Spanish interpreter. 

Giraldo was feisty during today's testimony -- sparring with lead prosecutor Scott Kessler as he twice pointed out that she'd told the grand jury a different story. In a proceeding several months ago, Giraldo insisted she wasn't drunk when she got hurt. Now she says she was, in fact, intoxicated. Her intoxication is part of Monserrate's defense with which she appears to be cooperating.

She told the judge that she was in a confused state when she was bleeding knocking on neighbor's door after her face was cut. 

The petite 30-year-old did concede that "my boyfriend was probably a little jealous" when Monserrate found another man's card in her purse. Asked if he spoke to her in an angry tone, Giraldo replied through a Spanish-speaking interpreter, "normal, a man's voice is always strong."

And on Tuesday the defense pointed to evidence of blood stains on a light switch that forensic biologist Ewilina Badja says was being turned on when the blood stained it. The defense says, however, that evidence strengthens Monserrate's argument that he was bringing his girlfriend a glass of water when he tripped in the dark and fell on her, cutting her face.

"You don't commit domestic violence in a pitch-black room," the Daily News reported Tacopina as saying.

The decision will lie in the hands of Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum, as Monserrate decided against a jury trial.  If convicted, he faces the end of his political career, and up to seven years in the slammer.

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